Associate professor Mary Walsh promoted to Director of Service Learning

By Alveena Siddiqi, News Reporter

Mary Walsh, the associate professor of the political science department has been promoted to replace EC’s director of service learning, to start in the fall semester of this year.

EC Dean of Faculty April Edwards, who appointed Walsh to take over the position, highlighted Walsh’s interest in the community as one of the reasons for picking her.

“She has a real passion for service learning - she teaches many of the service learning courses on our campus,” said EC Dean of Faculty April Edwards. “She’s obviously very committed to community engagement and social justice issues, and I think she’ll do well. She has some ideas for some new things she wants to start, and I think [the position is] a very good match for her talents and her interests.”

Throughout her years at EC, Walsh has incorporated service learning into her classes, involving students with organizations such as The EXODUS World Service, a Christian non-profit campaign focused on welcoming refugees to local communities, and the Human Rights Campaign, a non-profit LGBTQ advocacy group. 

Walsh emphasized the importance of service learning in Elmhurst’s newly approved strategic plan. 

“The new strategic plan has a number of pillars that will guide us moving forward, and it seems to me that there are two pillars that service learning is essential to,” she said. “The pillars of ‘Academic Excellence’ and of ‘Diversity, Inclusion and Social Responsibility.’ I think that service learning is necessarily apart of those.” 

Walsh continued with her enthusiasm for the years to come in her new position at EC.

“I’m really honored to be able to build on the foundation that’s been laid and excited to be part of the ongoing discussion about the role of service learning in the strategic plan going forward.”

Walsh also mentioned that current Director of Service Learning Michael Savage has played an important role in mentoring her throughout her time at Elmhurst.

“It was in my first year of teaching here that Mick introduced me to the possibilities of service learning in my classes and to the resources that the service learning department has to offer,” she said. “For example, it would’ve been off my radar that in my political justice class [to think] ‘Gosh, wouldn’t it be cool if they could link up with refugee families and think in that context about global justice? Or connect with the human rights campaign and think in that context about the concept of ‘rights’ itself?”

Savage will continue to play a role in helping Walsh to transition into her role over the summer before stepping out of the role to focus on teaching his classes in the fall. 

The process of finding a replacement to teach some of Dr. Walsh’s current classes is still under consideration. 

“Dr.Walsh will still be teaching two courses every semester, so it will really just be one course that we need covered. It could be an adjunct professor, it could be another professor in the department across campus,” said Edwards. “Typically for these types of appointments, we don’t replace the position. It’s a three-year appointment, so after those three years, Dr. Walsh may choose to rotate out and someone else may choose to rotate in as well.”